Written by on . Last updated July 18th, 2024.

Under land 60 kilometer from Lae in Papua New Guinea, a significant M5.7 earthquake occurred in the early afternoon of Tuesday May 21st, 2024. Around 1.5 million people have been exposed to shaking.

Felt the earthquake? Share this article: Share on Facebook Tweet Submit to Reddit Share on LinkedIn

Earthquake Summary

The earthquake struck on land in Papua New Guinea, 60 kilometer (37 mi) north-east of Lae in Morobe. The center of this earthquake had a quite shallow depth of 49 km. Shallow earthquakes usually have a larger impact than earthquakes deep in the earth.

Date and Time: May 21, 2024 13:35 (Port Moresby Time)
- May 21, 2024 03:35 Universal Time.
Location: 60 km NE of Lae, Morobe, Papua New Guinea.
Coordinates 6°16'44"S 147°18'35"E.
Map: Map of area around epicenter.
Map of area around epicenter. Click to open in Google Maps.
Magnitude: MAG 5.7
Detected by 23 stations. Maximum Error Range ±0.065 .
Depth: 49 km (31 mi)
A quite shallow depth.
Max. Intensity:

On the Modified Mercalli Scale.
Tsunami Risk: Tsunami very unlikely
While this was a shallow earthquake, it appears to have occurred under land with a magnitude not strong enough to cause tsunami's.
Always stay cautious - More info here.

Minimal impact predicted

Based on scientific estimates by the US Geographic Survey (USGS), the risk of high fatalities for this earthquake is classified at level GREEN (low). They expect an 65% likelyhood of between 0 and 1 fatalities, and a 96% chance that the number of fatalities falls no higher than 10.

The USGS classifies the economic impact of this earthquake at level GREEN (low). They expect an 65% likelyhood of between 0 and 1 million US Dollars in economic damage and impact, and a 96% chance that the economic impact of this earthquake falls no higher than 10 million USD.

Roughly 1.5 million people exposed to shaking

The USGS has published a report estimating the number of people exposed to this earthquake. Acoording to their analysis, roughly 1.5 million have been exposed to shaking at an MMI level of II or higher.

Light shaking and likely no damage may have been experienced by an estimated 501,400 people. At IV, it is the highest MMI level this earthquake has caused. The majority of people (roughly 1 million) live in an area exposed to level III, where weak shaking and probably no damage is expected. All exposure to shaking was within the borders of Papua New Guinea .

People MMI Level Shaking Damage
Not noticable None
Very weak None
Weak Probably none
Light Likely none
Moderate Very light
Strong Light
Very Strong Moderate
Severe Moderate to heavy
Violent Heavy
Extreme Very heavy

Nearby towns and cities

This earthquake may have been felt in Papua New Guinea . Lae in Morobe, Papua New Guinea is the nearest significant place from the epicenter. The earthquake occurred 60 kilometer (37 mi) north-east of Lae. The intensity of shaking and damage in Lae is estimated to be around level IV on the Modified Mercalli Intensity scale (light shaking, likely no damage).

An overview of nearby towns and cities is available in the overview below. If places don't have intensity data available, it likely means the experienced impact in those places was fairly small.

Overview of nearby places

Distance Place Intensity (MMI)
60 km (37 mi)
SW from epicenter

Morobe, Papua New Guinea.
127 km (79 mi)
SW from epicenter

Morobe, Papua New Guinea.
205 km (127 mi)
NW from epicenter

Madang, Papua New Guinea.
214 km (133 mi)
W from epicenter

Eastern Highlands, Papua New Guinea.
295 km (183 mi)
SSE from epicenter

Northern Province, Papua New Guinea.
Cities and Towns around the epicenter of this earthquake.

Earthquake Intensity Map

The intensity in shaking and damage by this earthquake is illustrated through the map below. The highest intensity measured for this earthquake is IV.

I Not felt
II Weak
III Weak
IV Light
V Moderate
VI Strong
VII Very Strong
VIII Severe
IX Violent
X Extreme
Earthquake Intensity Map based on Shakemap Data provided by USGS.

Shaking reported by 4 people

People that feel an earthquake may report their experience to the US Geographic Survey. Currently, 4 people have reported shaking in 2 places in Papua New Guinea.We keep updating this article as more ground reports become available. You may report that you felt this earthquake here.

Places with most reports:

  • Lae, Morobe, Papua New Guinea: 3 people.
  • Kainantu, Eastern Highlands, Papua New Guinea: 1 person.

2 Aftershocks detected

After this earthquake struck, 2 smaller aftershocks occurred. Just 2 days after this main shock, an earthquake measuring MAG-5 was detected 48 km (30 mi) east of this earthquake.

Before this earthquake struck, 1 smaller foreshock occurred. Nearby this earthquake a foreshock struck 1 day earlier. It measured a magnitude of 5.3

Overview of foreshocks and aftershocks

Classification Magnitude When Where
Foreshock M 5.3 1 day earlier
May 20, 2024 04:30 (Port Moresby Time)
12 km (7 mi)
SSW from Main Shock.
Main Shock
This Earthquake
M 5.7 May 21, 2024 13:35
(Port Moresby Time)
Aftershock M 4.5 1 day later
May 22, 2024 19:28 (Port Moresby Time)
12 km (7 mi)
WSW from Main Shock.
Aftershock M 5.0 2 days later
May 23, 2024 14:19 (Port Moresby Time)
48 km (30 mi)
E from Main Shock.
Detected MAG2.5+ earthquakes within within 100km (62 mi), that occurred in the three days before and after the main shock.

More earthquakes coming?

Aftershocks are usually at least 1 order of magnitude less strong than main shocks. The more time passes, the smaller the chance and likely strength of any potential aftershocks.

The chance that a significant earthquake like this one is followed by an even larger earthquake is not so large. On average, scientists estimate a 94% chance that a major earthquake will not be followed by an even larger one. It is still adviced to be aware of this risk

Read: How to Stay Safe during an Earthquake (cdc.gov).

Earthquakes like this happen often in the region

Earthquakes of this strength are very common in the region. This is the strongest earthquake to hit since November 14th, 2023, when a 5.9 magnitude earthquake hit 101 km (62 mi) further east-northeast. An even stronger magnitude 7.6 earthquake struck on September 10th, 2022.

In total, 35 earthquakes with a magnitude of 5.7 or higher have been registered within 300km (186 mi) of this epicenter in the past 10 years. This comes down to an average of once every 3 months.

Tsunami very unlikely

DISCLAIMER: We strongly suggest to closely monitor advice from local authorities with regards to tsunami risks. Our analysis is based on automatically collected data from external sources, and these might contain mistakes. In addition, earthquakes can cause landslides that may lead to a tsunami, or be a followed by another, potentially stonger, earthquake.

While MAG-6.5+ earthquakes may cause tsunami's, it appears that the epicenter of this earthquake hit under land. In addition, the reported depth is deeper than 100km, making the risk of a tsunami even less likely. However always stay cautious and monitor advice from local authorities.

Tsunami Risk Factors

Factor Under Sea? MAG-6.5 or stronger? Shallow depth?
Explanation Almost all tsunami's are caused by earthquakes with their epicenter under sea or very near the sea. However stay cautious in coastal areas as earthquakes on land may cause landslides into sea, potentially still causing a local tsunami. Under MAG 6.5: Very unlikely to cause a tsunami.
MAG 6.5 to 7.5: Destructive tsunami's do occur, but are uncommon. Likely to observe small sea level changes.
MAG 7.6+: Earthquakes with these magnitudes might produce destructive tsunami's.
Most destructive tsunami's are caused by shallow earthquakes with a depth between 0 and 100km under the surface of the earth. Deeper tsunami's are unlikely to displace to ocean floor.
This Earthquake Not this earthquake.
This earthquake appears to have struck on land far from any coast.
Not this earthquake.
This earthquake had a magnitude of 5.7. Earthquakes of this strength are unlikely to trigger a tsunami.
This earthquake occurred at a depth of of 49 km (31 mi). Earthquakes this shallow could trigger a tsunami.


Last updated 18/07/24 05:28 (). As more information on this earthquake becomes available this article will be updated. This article is automatically composed based on data originating from multiple sources.

  1. US Geographic Society (USGS): Earthquake us6000mzyf
  2. European-Mediterranean Seismological Centre (EMSC): Earthquake 20240521_0000034
  3. Geonames.org: World Cities Database
  4. Google Maps: Static API
  5. Earthquakelist.org: Historic Earthquakes Database

Share this article: Share on Facebook Tweet Submit to Reddit Share on LinkedIn